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Ecstasy is a novel of burning passion and agonising restraint. In turn-of the-century Holland, Cecile, a beautiful high-society widow, falls in love with a notorious womanizer, but her desire must remain unspoken.
This is one of Couperus’s most powerful novels. A brilliant observer of fin-de-siècle Dutch society, his works are characterised by perfect characterisation, exquisite description and a mordant wit, which brought comparisons to Oscar Wilde.
‘Couperus binds both irony and spiritual redemption. ‘
— The Daily Telegraph
‘Couperus’ sympathy for the hybrid, the impure and the ambiguous gave him a peculiarly modern voice. It is extraordinary that this Dutch dandy, writing in the flowery language of fin-de-siecle decadence, should still sound so fresh.’
— Ian Buruma, The New York Times Review of Books
Louis Couperus (1863–1923), regarded as one of the foremost figures in Dutch literature, was a leading member of the Tachtigers movement. Born in the Hague, Couperus was taken by his family to the Dutch East Indies as a child, where he remained until his father’s death. His other novels include Eline Vere (1889), Ecstasy (Extaze: Een boek van geluk, 1892), Inevitable (Langs lijnen van geleidelijkheid, 1900), and The Hidden Force (De Stille Kracht, 1900), all of which are available from Pushkin Press. A renowned wit, raconteur and commentator, Couperus continued to publish critically and commercially successful work until his death.